Ben Enwonwu’s paint of Ile-Ife princess, Adetutu Ademiluyi, known as Tutu, has fetched in a London auction £1, 205,000, four times more than expected.
In naira terms, it was sold for N508, 358, 301, an African record. The Nigerian masterpiece, initially declared missing was found in a “modest north London flat” recently.
The painting, ranked by arts collectors with Mona Lisa, was done by Nigeria’s renowned artist late Ben Enwonwu in 1974.
A missing Nigerian masterpiece found in a “modest north London flat” has sold for more than £1m at auction.
Bonhams, the auction company announced the record price for the paint, which measures 97 x 66.5cm and was signed by Enwonwu and dated 1974. The identity of the buyer of the Lot 47 has not been disclosed yet.
Bonhams says on its website that Ben Enwonwu’s portraits of Tutu have achieved a high level of celebrity because the paintings were some of the most enigmatic works produced by a Nigerian artist in the 20th century.
In 1971, Enwonwu, who died in 1994, at the age of 77, was appointed the first professor of Fine Art at the University of Ife.